Do you remember a few years ago that a diet soup with cabbage as its main constituient became all the rage? I recall making it myself and then throwing it all away! Well the man we have to hold responsible for it is a Parisian doctor Jean-Michel Cohen.
Now I do happen to agree that soups are a key meal in any diet plan, especially since scientists have discovered that food that has been liquidized will help us to stay fuller for longer. So I read with interest Dr Cohen’s latest diet bestseller, The Parisian Diet – How to Reach Your Right Weight and Stay There.
Dr Cohen says he speaks from experience when it comes to dieting. “I became a chubby kid, then obese.”
So why are the French, and Parisians in particular, slimmer than so many others in the developed world where obesity is reaching epidemic proportions?
Dr. Cohen, who is France’s foremost nutrition expert believes that the Parisian way can become a lifelong habit of healthy eating for everybody. In his book he discusses all the problems, obstacles and disappointments of trying to lose weight – and how to understand and overcome them (as he has done himself).
Soups still feature in the book as he believes that this is way of getting filling and nourishing food.
The Parisian Diet is divided into classic French phases: the Café phase (which kick-starts the diet); the Bistro phase (to be followed for two to three weeks) and the Gourmet phase (which promises weight loss of 8 to 11 pounds the first month with further loss over three months). Each phase includes many recipes – a total of 325 in the book – which fan out to hundreds of possible permutations by Cohen’s use of ‘equivalents’ whereby you can substitute ingredients with the same weight-loss results.
There are low-calorie recipes for famous French sauces, sample daily allowances and the ground rules for each phase.
No Snacking Rule
The French consume more than 90 per cent of their daily calorie intake at mealtimes; which means as a rule they do very little snacking between meals. After three decades of treating patients in France, Dr. Cohen shifted his focus in recent years to what some might call the largest target: America obesity.
In The Parisian Diet, Brits don’t escape his attention either. In this international edition he points out that in the UK – where 61 per cent of the population is overweight or obese – only 30 per cent of employees take a lunch hour.
The French take mealtimes seriously
French mealtimes are considered a real and necessary ritual for enjoyment, satisfaction and bringing people together.
Diets must have pleasures, says Dr Cohen (pictured above)
Dr. Cohen does not believe in denying oneself pleasures, and one of the greatest in Paris is eating out. A special section on Dining Out provides concrete suggestions for ordering healthy choices in a variety of restaurants – from Italian to Chinese to fast food outlets – and shows dieters how to get around daily burgers, pizza and sandwiches. Common diet stumbling blocks are also addressed – from hunger pangs to cravings for wine, chocolate and bread – and he even provides a recovery plan to follow times of indulgence. Even foods that are commonly considered taboo while dieting are allowed in The Parisian Diet, from pasta, to potatoes, to sandwiches.
Finally, he provides an eating plan for maintaining the achieved weight over time without slipping back into weight gain and bad habits. Dr. Cohen helps the reader calculate the correct body weight, provides guidelines for shopping and reading food labels, and outlines kitchen essentials, cooking methods and food substitutes.
In the final chapter entitled Your Right Weight for Life he explains how to make the Parisian way of eating a habit for life. He discusses redefining eating habits, managing hunger, cooking light, making healthy choices, tracking food intake and rewarding oneself. Above all, he encourages the dieter to keep it simple. Real success in weight loss can only be achieved by eating a well-balanced diet, based on medical expertise and adapted to modern life.
It’s a nice looking book – so a great present. Costs £16.99/US $26/€19.90
Here is one of the recipes for lunch:
Curried Carrots and Yogurt
8 oz (225g) baby carrots
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12ox/340g) plain nonfat yogurt
6 hazlenuts chopped
Prep time: 3 min/cook time: 10 min/ready in:13 min.
Steam the carrots for 10minutes. Mix curry powder and vanilla extract into yogurt. Mix carrots and yogurt togther in a bowl. Garnish with the chopped hazlenuts and serve.